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Old 8th December 2014, 12:05   #1
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Default Clubs facing transfer bans and fines for over-spending in the Championship

Leeds, Leicester and QPR among clubs facing transfer bans and fines for over-spending in the Championship
  • Several clubs are facing sanctions for breaking Football League FFP rules
  • Leeds posted losses of £22.9m last season and are likely to be sanctioned
  • Premier League clubs Leicester and QPR are also facing huge fines
  • Leeds' 2013-14 accounts paint an alarming picture of fiscal chaos
By Nick Harris and Alex Miller for The Mail on Sunday
7 December 2014

Leeds United are one of nine clubs expected to be sanctioned in the next few weeks with transfer bans or fines for over-spending in the Championship - with Leeds having posted losses of £22.9m last season.

Queens Park Rangers and Leicester are expected to be hit with massive fines, of around £30m and up to £20m respectively, under Football League financial fair play (FFP) rules, for racking up huge losses in the 2013-14 campaign as they won promotion.

Blackburn, Nottingham Forest, Bolton, Bournemouth, Birmingham and Middlesborough as well as Leeds can expect bans of transfer activity in the January window and in some cases beyond if they do not address their financial issues.
Under the League’s FFP rules, clubs who overspend and succeed by doing so by reaching the lucrative Premier League are hit with fines - hence QPR and Leicester being hit in the pocket.

Leeds’ punishment could be the last of their worries because their 2013-14 accounts, which have not yet been made public, paint an alarming picture of fiscal chaos and uncertainty.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Leeds’s income fell to £25.3m from £28.6m the previous season as gate money, TV money, commercial income and merchandise sales all fell. They made a loss of £20.4m, and a post-tax loss of £22.9m.

The accounts contain some alarming numbers, notably that minority shareholders Gulf Finance House, who have a 25 per cent stake, are owed £20.9m by Leeds, and that majority owner Massimo Cellino - currently challenging a League ruling he is unfit to run the club - is owed £12.2m he has injected in 2014 either personally or via companies in London and Italy.

Cellino, a convicted fraudster, announced last week that he is about to provide £15m in extra funding and that GFH is to put in £5m. But it is understood that GFH won’t actually pay any more money but instead write off a £5m payment Cellino himself is due to make to them on 14 December relating to his buyout.

When asked how GFH could be owed more than £20m by Leeds, a GFH spokesman told the Mail on Sunday: ‘As a result of the poor financial situation which they inherited at the club, GFH extended funding of around £20m of cash between July 2012 to November 2013 to keep the club solvent, acquire new players, give new contracts to existing players, pay down existing debt and meet other day to day liabilities as they fell due when the club's revenues were insufficient to do this.’

It is not clear how and when this money was put into the club because the accounts don’t show such an injection.

One source has suggested if Cellino is forced to relinquish control of Leeds until a tax evasion conviction is spent in March, GFH may temporarily take charge and then hand back the reins. Another source says casino firm Gentings are considering an offer for the club. Both scenarios are ‘speculative, so far’ say club insiders.

Another puzzling detail in the accounts is Leeds’s wage bill rising to £22.4m from £20m despite total staff numbers falling from 206 employees to 182, and a decreased playing staff.

GFH and related parties also took money from the club in 2013-14 in the form of £2m in interest on loans. They also billed Leeds for £3.4m for unspecified services in the year, although the accounts note those invoices are in dispute.

A rise in Leeds’s ‘cost of sales’ (expenses) at a time of falling revenue, as well as almost £2m spent on ‘legal and professional fees’ and ‘management charges’ also show extraordinarily high levels of undetailed spending for what is, in business terms, such a small company.

Leeds are unlikely to contest their transfer ban but QPR will almost certainly launch a legal challenge to their fine, expected to be around £30m, calculated via a complex tariff based on losses expected to be around £40m. Monies accrued from the ‘Fair Play Tax’ will go to charity.

If QPR refuse to pay and are then relegated, the Football League have already said they will not be re-admitted to their three divisions and would face having to pay up or banishment to the non-league.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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